Nicole Atkins leaves a big impression. Her powerful lung capacity, her barreling backbeat, her blustery presence, none of these indicates a shrinking violet. On her second solo full-length, Mondo Amore, Atkins veers towards elaborate arrangements and layered instrumentation to showcase her Roy Orbison-meets- Carole King delivery. This is a mainstream step away from the torch singing of her previous album, Neptune City. Atkins may have taken this step to bring more attention to her striking vocal prowess — and she can certainly pull it off — but it is the smoldering burn of Neptune City that sets Atkins apart. The smoke of Neptune only occasionally seeps out, on the billowing “Hotel Plaster”, which shifts easily into the gravelly crunches of “You Come To Me”. On the flip side, Atkins’ vigorous belting out of the trite lyrics to “This Is For Love” makes them sound novel while in contrast, “The Tower” is all bluster with no substance. Instead of playing it safe, which is what Atkins does on the majority of Mondo Amore, she should focus on one instrument: her undeniable voice.
Buy this at iTunes. After the jump, check out the video for “Vultures”.